Alumnus John Flanagan Establishes Stone Professorship in Honor of His Longtime Northwestern Physician

From left to right:Dr. Neil Stone, John Flanagan, and Dr. Clyde Yancy.

Northwestern alumnus John R. Flanagan, ’58 MBA, has been supporting his alma mater for more than 40 years, making numerous gifts across Northwestern University’s campuses. Recently, as a part of We Will. The Campaign for Northwestern Medicine, Mr. Flanagan made an extraordinary gift to establish the Neil J. Stone, MD, Professorship at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine. This endowed professorship honors Neil J. Stone ’66, ’68 MD, ’74 GME, ’75 GME, who serves as the Robert Bonow, MD, Professor of Medicine at Feinberg.

A Doctor-Patient Relationship with Enduring Roots

Mr. Flanagan has been one of Dr. Stone’s patients since the very beginning. He started seeing Dr. Stone over 40 years ago, when Dr. Stone first joined Northwestern.

“Dr. Stone is my man—if I have a problem, I call him,” said Mr. Flanagan. “He has been an unbelievable physician and friend to me over the years. I feel very fortunate.”

The Stone Professorship was created in the Division of Cardiology within the Department of Medicine. It will have a tremendous impact on the division’s ability to recruit and retain the brightest minds in cardiology who will follow in the footsteps of Dr. Stone.

“Our most valuable resources are the talent of our faculty and the ability to discover, develop and deploy novel scientific initiatives. John Flanagan gets this,” said Clyde W. Yancy, MD, MSc, MACC, FAHA, MACP, FHFSA, who is the Magerstadt Professor of Medicine and chief of the Division of Cardiology.

John Flanagan with Max Kelsten, the John Flanagan Scholar, at the 2017 Commitment to Scholarships Luncheon at The Casino in Chicago.

“From my first meeting with John, he has articulated that institutions thrive when talented individuals are available to be mentored by those who are already accomplished and most experienced. Enter Dr. Stone, who is, simply put, among the most preeminent of all cardiologists in the world and widely regarded as the best in his field,” said Dr. Yancy, who also serves as the vice dean for Diversity and Inclusion.

“We realized a perfect bond with John’s generous gesture. It is in keeping with his deep spirit of lifelong philanthropy, and the laudable excellence and impeccable character of Dr. Stone as both a physician and person,” continued Dr. Yancy. “We are now enabled to endorse a future talent pool benefiting from both the gift of John and the excellence of Dr. Stone. The creation of this professorship cements these two forces.”

To elevate the impact of Mr. Flanagan’s generosity, the Stone Professorship was supported in part by alumni Patrick G. Ryan ’59, ’09 H, and Shirley W. Ryan ’61 through the Ryan Family Chair Challenge, which matches gifts made by other Northwestern supporters to establish new endowed professorships, or chairs, across a wide range of disciplines.

“This professorship means so much. It’s almost overwhelming,” said Dr. Stone. “It really is a source of pride that after having spent my entire career at Northwestern, this legacy of scholarship will remain. It really means a great deal to me. It’s a way of leaving an imprint on an institution about which I care deeply.”

“On a personal note,” continued Dr. Stone, “It’s nice to think that my grandkids will know that someone holds a professorship with my name on it, showing them what I was all about.”

Named and endowed professorships, like the Stone Professorship, represent the highest honor a university can bestow upon its faculty. These positions signify the pinnacle of academic achievement and excellence, and are reserved for the most distinguished and productive physicians and scientists. They carry prestige and impact for the benefactors, the individuals for whom they are named, the appointed holders of the professorship and the University and medical school as a whole.

From Modest Beginnings to Dedicated Philanthropist

Mr. Flanagan grew up in Bath, New York, population 5,000, with his parents and two siblings. John was the youngest. Their father made $5,000 a year working for the Veterans’ Administration. Mr. Flanagan attended the State University of New York at Albany “because it was free.” He went on to graduate cum laude. He pursued his master of business administration at Northwestern’s business school, now the Kellogg School of Management, where he received a full scholarship.

From left to right: Dr. James Surmeier, John Flanagan and Flanagan fellows Drs. Yijuan Du, Cecilia Tubert and Patricia Gonzalez Rodriguez.

After graduation, Mr. Flanagan went on to work for Stein Roe & Farnham, the number one investment counseling firm in the Midwest at the time, and managed $25 billion in funds. He became a partner in 1967. After Liberty Mutual Insurance purchased the firm, Mr. Flanagan went on to start his own company called Fundamental Equities International, where he still serves as president. In addition to remaining active at the firm, Mr. Flanagan also maintains a mailing list through which he shares information on investment opportunities.

Mr. Flanagan’s generosity to Northwestern University has been widespread and longstanding. Dedicated to providing for future generations of Northwestern-educated leaders in medicine, he created the John Flanagan Scholarship, which currently supports Max Kelsten, a second-year medical student at Feinberg. In 2014, at Northwestern’s Kellogg School of Management, he established the John R. Flanagan Excellence Grant, which currently supports two Kellogg trainees who demonstrate outstanding merit and an interest in finance.

In the realm of medical research, Mr. Flanagan has supported the work of Robert L. Murphy, MD, the John Philip Phair Professor of Infectious Diseases, and has contributed funds for the construction of a quarantine research unit in the Robert H. Lurie Medical Research Center. Mr. Flanagan also created the Flanagan Fellowship Fund in 2015 in the Department of Physiology to support three international fellows working on Parkinson’s disease research in the laboratory of D. James Surmeier, PhD, who is the Nathan Smith Davis Professor and chair of the Division of Physiology. In addition, Mr. Flanagan has made gifts to the Robert H. Lurie Comprehensive Cancer Center of Northwestern University, as well as to support the work of Robert O. Bonow, MD, the Max and Lilly Goldberg Distinguished Professor of Cardiology.

“When I think about philanthropy, I always remember where I started—my family had limited means. I worked four jobs at once in college. Now that I have some modest wealth, and I know I can’t take it with me, I want to do something good with it,” said Mr. Flanagan. “I learned from a good friend of mine who is a Feinberg alumnus: support the people—the faculty, students and trainees—because you can have a tremendous impact on them individually.”

“This professorship means so much. It’s almost overwhelming. It really is a source of pride that after having spent my entire career at Northwestern, this legacy of scholarship will remain. It really means a great deal to me. It’s a way of leaving an imprint on an institution about which I care deeply.”

- Dr. Neil Stone